Grace Johnson in Taiwan

grace_johnsonIn May 2009, I graduated with a major in Political Science and a minor in Global Trade and Commerce Studies from Wake Forest.  During the past year, I lived abroad in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, teaching English in two local public middle schools as a Fulbright Fellow English Teaching Assistant (ETA).  I worked with local Taiwanese co-teachers to teach a specialized English class for eighth graders focused on American culture through the use of oral and auditory English language skills.  This coming year, I will again be in Kaohsiung, this time as the pupil instead of the teacher, studying Mandarin at National Sun Yat-sen University.  My years at Wake Forest opened up to me a myriad of exciting opportunities in which to use my political science degree beyond the usual law school trajectory.  Because of the intimacy and individual attention given to students in the department, I received opportunities to participate in conferences and to do individual research through summer fellowships.  While at Wake, my professors challenged me to think outside of my limited experiences and encouraged me to pursue my goals, even when they sounded crazy.  The close mentorship I received from my professors continues to this day, as they remain supportive and interested in my future.  My Wake Forest education not only taught me the essentials of academic writing and critical thinking, but it also helped me to learn how to approach the world with an open and curious mind. [posted August 2010]

Karl Haigler

KarlMy career has led to interesting places – a journey that began with an invaluable liberal education in politics at Wake Forest. I’ve have had the opportunity to serve as an educator, public servant, citizen-soldier, corporate consultant, and entrepreneur. I’ve advised Governors, a memorable First Lady, CEOs, and Cabinet Secretaries. I’m a published author in literacy, workforce development, human capital management and “gap years.” Not exactly a linear career path, but one that’s been challenging, engaging, and that I plan to continue while re-wiring (not retiring).

I graduated from Wake in 1970 and then obtained a Master’s degree in Political Science from the State University of New York at Buffalo. From 1972-85 I was a high-school teacher and then a high-school principal. My participation in a Fifth District (N.C.) congressional campaign and consulting at the National Endowment for the Humanities led to a stint as a political appointee in the Reagan administration. At the U.S. Department of Education, I headed the President’s adult literacy initiative, served as director of adult education, and was a member of the Secretary’s senior staff.  In these roles I helped develop the nation’s first national adult literacy assessment and served as the Secretary’s principal liaison to Mrs. Barbara Bush, governors, and other federal departments. Upon leaving Washington I became special advisor to Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus (now Secretary of the Navy) in adult literacy and workforce development.

My commission in ROTC opened the door to a variety of intelligence assignments as an Army Reservist from 1978 to 1988.  Since 1991 I have worked as a human resources consultant. In 2003 I helped found and now direct a national non-profit group, Bioethics-in-Action, that focuses on ethical issues related to biotechnology. There is little doubt that the study of politics at Wake Forest provided me with relevant knowledge and skills, enabling and motivating me to make the most of the opportunities that I have been afforded. But more than that, I know that my love of learning—first kindled in classrooms and professors’ offices—is the best legacy that I can pass on to my family, my community, and my country. [posted June 2010]

James F. Bailey

BaileyI graduated in 1972 from Wake Forest with a Political Science major. It was natural to then go on to receive a law degree from Wake Forest Law School in 1975. The Political Science Department courses made it quite easy to move into a legal career. I am forever grateful to have been a student in that Department. My first employment was in the Delaware Department of Justice and then as the head of two government agencies under our then Governor, Pierre DuPont. Private practice followed, first with a small boutique firm and then in 1983 I started my own firm. As of this moment I continue to maintain a private law practice with countless jury trials in all types of civil law cases. I have represented the Sheriff of McKinley County New Mexico and companies involved in oil drilling off the African Coast. It has certainly been interesting. Retirement looms in the next few years. There is no doubt that but for my political science background at Wake Forest, the path through the world of law would have been much more difficult. Thank you. [posted June 2010]

Patrick Auld

patrick_auldI graduated from Wake Forest University in 1992, with a double major in Politics (before the department name change) and History. I then went directly to Yale Law School, from which I received my juris doctor degree in 1995. After law school, I clerked first for a United States District Judge in Greensboro, North Carolina, and then for a United States Circuit Judge in Atlanta, Georgia. Following my clerkships, I spent a short time in private practice in Atlanta, during which time I primarily worked on First Amendment and related media litigation. In 1998, I returned to Greensboro to serve as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina. In that capacity, I prosecuted a significant number and variety of federal criminal cases, including trying approximately 20 cases to jury verdicts and orally arguing approximately 15 cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. On November 18, 2009, I was appointed an United States Magistrate Judge. In this position, my tasks include conducting preliminary proceedings in all of the various types of civil and criminal cases in the Middle District of North Carolina, providing recommended rulings on dispositive motions in civil cases, and conducting civil and misdemeanor criminal trials with the consent of the parties.

My political science coursework at Wake Forest provided me with an excellent foundation for law school and my legal career. In particular, a number of writing projects I completed in American politics related courses prepared me well for all the legal writing I have done as a law student, as a civil and criminal litigator, and now as a judge. In addition, the many small, discussion-based classes I took within the political science department sharpened both my critical thinking and oral communication capabilities. I continuously have drawn upon those skills during the 17 years since I left Wake Forest. Without hesitation, I would say that, but for the training and education I received as a political science student at Wake Forest, I never could have had the professional success I have been so fortunate to enjoy. [posted January 2010]

Jacob Montgomery & Lisa Hoppenjans

jacob_lisaJacob Montgomery, ’02, and Lisa Hoppenjans, ’03, met while studying abroad with the political science department in London and just celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary.  Jacob double majored in political science and mathematical economics, while Lisa majored in political science with a minor in journalism.  After graduation, Jacob managed a state house campaign and traveled to New Zealand as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to earn a graduate degree in political science.  He is currently in his fifth year of a Ph.D. program in political science at Duke University, specializing in American politics and political parties.  Lisa spent four years after graduation working as a newspaper reporter, covering courts, business, and county government for the Winston-Salem Journal and The (Raleigh) News & Observer.  She is now a third-year law student at Duke and will begin a one-year clerkship with a judge on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the fall. [posted January 2010]

Ellison Laskowski


I graduated from Wake Forest in 2001 with a major in Political Science and a minor in Italian.  The faculty and breadth of international and comparative politics courses I took at Wake inspired me to pursue graduate studies in foreign policy, and prepared me well for a career with the U.S. Department of State.   After Wake Forest, I earned a masters degree in international affairs from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.  I worked for several years in Washington, DC at the Delegation of the European Commission and the Office of International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Justice.  In 2007, I joined the Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer.  I’m currently serving my first assignment in Taipei, Taiwan, where I live with my husband and son. [posted January 2010]